Google to Adjust Search Results Under New EU Rules, Potentially Impacting Revenues

In a blog post on Wednesday, Alphabet’s Google announced plans to modify online search results to enhance the visibility of comparison sites.
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The move is part of the company’s efforts to comply with the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), slated to take effect by March 7, which mandates fair treatment for rival services and equal ranking in search results.

Under the DMA, Google is also obligated to grant business users access to the data they generate while using the platform.

The tech giant outlined its compliance strategy, stating, “We will introduce dedicated units that include a group of links to comparison sites from across the web, and query shortcuts at the top of the search page to help people refine their search, including by focusing results just on comparison sites.”

For specific categories like hotels, Google plans to experiment with a dedicated space for comparison sites and direct suppliers, displaying more detailed individual results, including images and star ratings. However, these changes will result in the removal of certain features from the search page, such as the Google Flights unit.

Rival comparison sites, historically critical of Google’s search practices, have welcomed these adjustments. In the past, their complaints led to a significant 2.42-billion-euro ($2.63 billion) EU antitrust fine against Google.

Google is set to implement additional changes in the coming weeks, allowing Android phone owners to easily switch their default search engine or browser. Users of Google services will also gain the ability to transfer their data to third-party apps or services.

European users will encounter an additional consent banner seeking permission to continue sharing data for targeted ads. However, Google cautioned that its proposed changes, still subject to potential modifications before March 7, might not be universally well-received. The company expressed concerns that some aspects of the DMA may limit choices for individuals and businesses in Europe, despite supporting the initiative’s goals of consumer choice and interoperability.